KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Fighting across Afghanistan ahead of crucial legislative elections killed six people and wounded a female candidate while she was campaigning, officials said Thursday.

Despite the bloodshed, the government said it was confident of success in Sunday’s polls.

“The enemy is making efforts to threaten people but they don’t have the ability to stop the elections,” Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali said. “They may only be able to create a disturbance.”

He said 55,000 police officers, 28,000 soldiers and about 20,000 militia troops and intelligence agents have fanned out across the country to safeguard voting. Some 20,000 troops from a U.S.-led coalition and a separate 11,000-member NATO-led force are also on alert.

Jalali said more than 100 militant plots to attack the polls have been thwarted, including suicide attacks and roadside bombs.

Taliban insurgents have stepped up attacks and vowed to subvert the elections, seen as a major step toward democracy and stability after a quarter-century of war. Fighting has killed more than 1,200 people in the past six months, including five candidates and four election workers.

In the latest violence, about 40 gunmen attacked a police post in the mountainous Char-Chilo district of Uruzgan province late Wednesday, provincial Gov. Jan Mohammed Khan said. Police killed three of the attackers and arrested one after a two-hour gunbattle, he said. The others escaped.

There were no casualties among 20 police manning the checkpoint, Khan said.

Khan also blamed the Taliban for the killings of seven men whose bodies were found in the province Tuesday along with their voter ID cards.

Also Wednesday, a bomb exploded along a road frequently traveled by U.S.-led and Afghan army forces near Tirin Kot, the provincial capital, blowing up a civilian vehicle and killing three passengers, he said.

Three other men and a child riding in the vehicle were seriously hurt, Khan said. He blamed both attacks on Taliban rebels, saying the roadside bomb was probably aimed at U.S.-led or Afghan forces.

East of Kabul, near the border with Pakistan, militants kidnapped three local journalists, said Asadullah Wafa, the governor of Kunar province.

He said it was not immediately clear who they worked for and no contact has been made with the kidnappers.

Gunmen in the region also attacked and wounded a female candidate as she campaigned, Wafa said.

In Kabul, Sima Samar, chairman of the Independent Human Rights Commission, and the United Nations condemned the attack on the candidate and the kidnappings.


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